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Born to lead
"We are born to lead life. But many people-women especially-haven't learned to validate their innate leadership qualities."
by Pamela Ostrom

We didn't waste time blaming each other. We didn't stand around wishing we'd made better choices when there were forks in the trail. Hopelessly lost, we had to follow our instincts to find our way. Instincts that I now know are fundamental leadership practices for living life.

Two college students camping in Acadia National Park strolled into the forest on a sunny day, took a few wrong turns and ended up on a deer path in the midst of a swamp. You know what they say about walking in circles when you're lost? It's true. By late afternoon we had no idea where the campground was or where WE were. Completely disoriented, spending a cold night with no food, water or fire became vividly real. We looked at each other and decided to take charge of our future.

First we sized up the situation, focusing on what we did know and what we could do. Acadia Park is on the coast of Maine, the ocean was to the east of us. There was a road between the park and the ocean. If we kept the sun at our backs, we were certain to reach the road. Our analysis had yielded a target and a direction. Head east to the ocean. Good.

Next we faced the unknowns. Could we find the road before dark? What was beyond the swamp? No clue. Only one thing was certain; we had to move out to find out. All we knew was the first step. We plunged off the path into thick, chest-high grass. It was tough going at first and got worse later. After the swamp, we came to a heavily wooded bog. Trees lay toppled over on the spongy earth, their enormous root systems towering above our heads. Climbing over rotting trunks, we soldiered on. Exhausted, we walked... forever. Then, in one exhilarating moment, came the roar of the ocean hitting granite cliffs. Success! The sun was setting as we touched the road. We walked into camp at dusk.


We are born to lead life. But many people-women especially-haven't learned to validate their innate leadership qualities. Recognizing those talents is a liberating step. In today's ever-changing world, we often find ourselves disoriented, walking in circles or following paths that no longer serve us. We must call out our abilities. Name our target, find our direction-take the first step into the unknown. Head east to the ocean. Good.

Pamela Ostrom lives in Brooklyn Park and is a leadership coach and management consultant with Lynx Leadership. www.lynxleadership.com

LeaderVoice: Tell us about a principle or practice of your leadership experience that might strike a chord with other women. 
Email your 450 word personal essay to editor@womenspress.com.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011
Article comment by: Barbara Moffett

I read this article in the early morning. I couldn't sleep because I was mad at myself for a decision I made without getting enough information. Reading this opinion and story helped me calm down and be more patient and faithful to myself - my inner leadership.

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